“Bitcoin encourages us to campaign for a better world,” Peter McCormack opens up to Coinlist
My interview with the creator of well-known podcast ‘What Bitcoin Did’, turned out to be a truly enjoyable chat. Peter is charming, funny and unapologetically honest, which made an hour talking to him seem like 10 minutes. We discussed his legal quarrels with Craig Wright, how rock bottom can change your perspective, ambitious new projects and the role Bitcoin has played in it all.
Leonie: Can you give us an update on your defamation lawsuit involving Craig Wright?
Peter: There’s a limited amount I can say about this because we are in a legal process and I keep getting told off by my lawyers for tweeting stupid shit out. We are about to file our defence. I’ve reviewed it. It’s a very compelling and strong defence. I believe Craig Wright and Calvin Ayre are not interested in actually winning this case, because they believe they’ve been libeled and had their careers damaged and incomes damaged, because they’re only after £100,000. Their legal costs are going to be much higher and Calvin Ayre is a billionaire. So this is entirely about wanting a legal case, where they are in a position in which they are able to say: ‘Oh, look, you can’t say it’s not him so therefore he must be Satoshi’, which supports Bitcoin SV. I offered them £250,000 to prove it and they declined the offer. They didn’t respond. Obviously, this is what it’s all about. They are abusing the UK court system, of which neither of them are native to. Our defence is compelling, strong and I’m entirely confident we will win the case.
Leonie: In terms of investment, what are you keeping a close eye on?
Peter: I’ll tell you what I do in terms of investment. I buy Bitcoin, I accumulate Bitcoin, and I don’t sell Bitcoin, anymore. That’s what I do. I’m playing a very, very long term game here. We’re talking about at least a single decade, maybe multiple decades. You know I have strong convictions of Bitcoin, and I have little to no conviction behind anything else in the crypto space. That’s where my money is. Long live Bitcoin and hopefully, it’s going to make the world a better place. And if alongside that it makes my retirement a little bit easier, as I get older, then great!
Leonie: Peter, you are a successful podcaster with more than 68,000 followers on social media. ‘What Bitcoin Did’ has become incredibly popular- tell us a bit about your journey and how you ended up where you are right now.
Peter: Just a weird chain of events really, a lot of luck. And some hard work. There hasn’t been a real plan up until about a year ago, when I really started to focus on the podcast. My life fell apart about five years ago for a number of reasons. My marriage fell apart, I became a drug addict, and then my successful advertising agency collapsed. Everything went to shit really quickly. I nearly, very nearly went a bit too far with the drugs and ended up in hospital. So, I did the classic rock bottom and had to start rebuilding my life from scratch. I took a year off work, got myself healthy, got myself clean, and in late 2016 rediscovered Bitcoin. I invested a little, then invested some more, then invested a lot, made and lost a lot of money very quickly… But along the way, I decided to start a podcast and that’s become my focus for the last two years. And I’m absolutely loving this part of the journey, it has been probably been my favourite part of my whole life so far..
Leonie: Who is the most interesting person you have had the pleasure of interviewing on your podcast?
Peter: That’s a hard question because there are lots for different reasons. I can’t just pick one… But there are standout ones. So my interview with Lyn Ulbricht, the mother of Ross Ulbricht, who created the Silk Road, was a very important one for me. Learning about her, what she’s been through and her son, who is sentenced to pretty much a whole lifetime in prison. I enjoyed following her journey, she is somebody who’s trying to fight for her son’s freedom and has become an activist putting the spotlight on the injustices within the US prison system. Probably one of the most important interviews I did, though, was with Alex Gladstein of the Human Rights Foundation, because he has become a dear friend. He’s pushing me in a direction that makes me want to create content that lives outside of the world of Bitcoin. I’ve got a growing interest in human rights, freedom, censorship, injustices in the world, and I’m feeling like gravity is attracting me to creating content around that kind of area.
Leonie: OK, in that context, would you say that the crypto community and what they stand for feed into the topics you’ve just mentioned, like equal rights for example?
Peter: It really depends what you’re in Bitcoin for. Most people get in to make money. At least at the beginning. Then they fall down that rabbit hole- they start learning about the monetary policies of central banks, how governments use money. Because of that, they understand other things Bitcoin can do beyond making people rich, if you get in at the right time. They understand how it does have the ability to enable freedom, how it is censorship resistant. For me and I think many others, it kind of made us aware of what’s going on around us, just a bit more open minded. It encourages us to campaign for a better life and a better world. And perhaps Bitcoin is one part of the jigsaw.
Leonie: Do you see any dark clouds in the crypto sky?
Peter: I mean, what’s to worry about? My podcast is entirely focused on Bitcoin. I don’t focus on any other currencies now. I made this decision for a number of reasons. So, do I worry about other cryptocurrencies? No more than I worry about companies that I don’t shop in. Bitcoin has had a dark cloud over it since day one. It’s gone through very challenging situations. Do I worry? No, since Bitcoin does what Bitcoin does, I’m not too worried.
Leonie: Why do you hate Ripple so much?
Peter (laughs): So firstly, let’s just set the ground rules here. I think Twitter is perfectly designed for British people, because we grow up in a culture where we take the piss out of each other, right? Every single one of my friendships is based on taking the piss out of each other, whether it’s via text or down the pub. I see me taking the piss out of Ripple on Twitter no different from me being in the pub with my friend Sam, taking the piss out of him for being a Tottenham fan. I think some people take it a bit too seriously. And maybe myself I wrapped up in it a little bit too much. But, I mean, Ripple is what it is- it’s kind of a joke! They are selling 300 million of their printed tokens every quarter to finance this business, a business I think there’s been very little use for, very little care for. But most of it is just banter. I’m just taking the piss really.
Leonie: What do you think about Facebook’s Libra project?
Peter: I have very mixed views on Libra. It changes depending on who I speak to. Some people make me think, OK, this is a good idea. And other people make me think this is a bad idea. Firstly, will it launch? I don’t know. I’ve got a feeling it might end up becoming a dollar pegged stablecoin rather than their own currency. And will people use it? Maybe not as much as people think… Again, I don’t really know. If you’re giving people an option of credit card, Libra and PayPal, will they use Libra? Who knows. Do I think other people will launch coins? I think they might. I think if we get lots of them, they’ll end up becoming a bit shit and a mess. But if Libra does launch, it will be a nice onboarding exercise for Bitcoin. Maybe…
Leonie: What is next on your agenda?
Peter: So I’m about to start a new podcast at the end of August, it’s called Defiance. Bitcoin will be a common thread through it, but it’s focused much more on freedom, human rights, sex workers, drugs and justices, other things going on in the world. I’m also looking at whether I can actually build a media company. So, if I can, I really want to do more podcasts, but more in the research/documentary style podcast, a bit like Serial. I’d like to make documentaries, too, I just love creating content, and I want to do more of it.
Leonie: Great. Would you say you are an influencer in the crypto community?
Peter: No I hate that term, come on. I’m a journalist.
Leonie: OK, so let’s put it this way: you have created a platform on which you can reach a lot of people, what is your ultimate goal?
Peter: My ultimate goal. My ultimate goal is probably a strange one. My ultimate goal is not to fuck this up (laughs). And I feel very blessed to be in a position where my job is having conversations with people, researching interesting topics, releasing content that people appreciate and going on Twitter to argue with morons. And this is a very strange and weird world for me. It’s very different from the corporate world I used to work in. I feel very blessed. I love doing this. I’m happy, life is great, right? So my first goal is not to fuck this up, which I’m very capable of. Because many times in my life, I’ve been in fortunate positions and screwed it up one way or another. But really, other goals. Look, I’m financially incentivized, but I don’t care that much. Probably my main goal would be to be able to create really great content that people like, and that is loved by many, so I can do more of it. So If I could spend the rest of my life travelling the world meeting great people doing awesome interviews, I’m going to be very, very happy.
Leonie: Anything else you would like to say?
Peter: Listen to ‘What Bitcoin Did’.
Leonie: Thanks for your time today Peter!
To check out Peter McCormack’s podcast ‘What Bitcoin Did’ go to: https://www.whatbitcoindid.com